All posts tagged ‘W3C’

File Under: HTML, HTML5, Web Standards

W3C Names Four New HTML Editors

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has named four new editors of the HTML5 spec to replace departing editor Ian Hickson.

The W3C’s HTML Working Group co-chair Paul Cotton announced the four-way editorship in a e-mail to the W3C’s public HTML mailing list.

The four new editors include two Microsoft employees, Travis Leithead and Erika Doyle Navara, Apple’s Ted O’Conner and Silvia Pfeiffer of Ginger Technologies, a company specializing in HTML video.

“The Chairs received a large number of applications for the position of HTML5 editor,” writes Cotton. “After evaluating all the applications, we chose the above HTML5 editorial team based on the individual qualifications of the new editors as well as the combination of the individual appointee’s qualifications.”

The heavy representation of Microsoft is interesting given that Microsoft is not currently a member of the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG), the other standards body that oversees HTML. It would seem that Microsoft is doubling down on the W3C version of HTML.

The editor change is part of the recent split that sees the two standards bodies jointly responsible for developing the HTML specification, moving in different directions.

The W3C and the WHATWG have long acted as separate bodies, but previously shared an editor, Ian Hickson, who helped ensure that the two specs remained in sync. Then last year the WHATWG announced it was dropping the “5″ version number and would work on HTML as a “living standard” sans version numbers. The W3C continued to focus on HTML “snapshots” like HTML5.

“The WHATWG effort is focused on developing the canonical description of HTML,” wrote when he stepped down as W3C editor last week. “The W3C effort, meanwhile, is now focused on creating a snapshot developed according to the venerable W3C process.”

File Under: HTML, HTML5, Web Standards

Two HTML Standards Diverge in a Wood

The two standards bodies that are jointly responsible for developing the HTML specification have cut the final tie that was binding them together.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG) began to move apart last year when the WHATWG announced it would drop the version number and work on a “living standard” sans version numbers. The W3C continued to focus on HTML “snapshots” like HTML5.

However, despite that split the two shared an editor, Ian Hickson, who oversees both specs. Or did. In an e-mail to the WHATWG mailing list, Hickson announced that he is no longer the editor of the W3C HTML WG spec. The change isn’t unexpected; in fact Hickson announced it would happen over a year ago, but it does emphasize the growing distance between the two standards.

“The WHATWG effort is focused on developing the canonical description of HTML,” writes Hickson on the mailing list. “The W3C effort, meanwhile, is now focused on creating a snapshot developed according to the venerable W3C process.”

With different goals for each version of the spec Hickson says that “the chairs of the W3C HTML working group and myself decid[ed] to split the work into two, with a different person responsible for editing the W3C HTML5, canvas, and microdata specifications than is editing the WHATWG specification.”

Now, more than ever before there seems to be two versions of HTML. The question for developers is, what does this mean for the future of HTML? In the short term, very little.

The W3C will continue to develop its fixed-in-time snapshot of HTML5 and the WHATWG will keep going with the “living standard” approach. What some developers fear is that down the road the two specs will diverge in significant ways and HTML will become a messy set of forked standards and varying browser support that lands us back in the bad old days of IE 6.

Anything is possible, but we remain hopeful that that won’t happen, at least in part because the W3C standard is more of a branch than a fork.

If all goes well the process will remain essentially as it has been for the last few years: a browser adds some shiny new feature, the WHATWG documents it and other browsers implement their own versions. There’s an awkward, sometimes frustrating period for web developers while browsers tweak and refine their support, but eventually the dust settles and a new standard is added to the W3C’s version. It may not be a completely ideal process, but it is what’s managed to bring us this far.

File Under: HTML5, Web Standards

W3C Adds Time Element Back to HTML5

If HTML5 editor Ian Hickson’s recent decision to remove the <time> element from the HTML5 specification left you scratching your head, you’re not alone. The W3C, the group that oversees HTML5, feels the same way and have stepped in to override Hickson’s earlier decision to remove the widely used element from the HTML5 spec. That means <time> is once again part of HTML5.

There’s a hint of friction in W3C member Paul Cotton’s post to the HTML Working Group, suggesting that the W3C feels Hickson overstepped his bounds in removing <time>. “Therefore we direct the HTML5 Editor to NOT process this bug further,” writes Cotton, who goes on to say that the <time> element will be reinstated to the spec by Nov. 8.

The HTML WG wants, ahem, more time to hash out <time>.

It’s unclear exactly what this means for the WHATWG version of the HTML5 spec (see our article on the Difference Between the WHATWG and the HTML WG), but the W3C’s new love for time should be welcome news for web developers who’ve already deployed <time> on their sites.

While Hickson’s move to toss time out was probably premature, there are nevertheless some problems with <time>. The <time> element offers the ability to add semantic meaning to pages by marking up dates and other time data, but not all use cases have been covered and some gray areas still exist. For example, the code <time>2:30</time> could refer to a time of day or perhaps the length of a movie. Both are theoretically valid uses and figuring out the details and the various potential use cases, is exactly what the HTML WG wants more time to do.

In the minutes from the last HTML WG meeting developer Tantek Çelik, makes the case for re-instating <time> just as it was, but also adding several new capabilities. Çelik suggests accounting for use cases like a <time> tag with only a year (commonly used on sites like Wikipedia or for copyright), and also for using <time> with only a day and month, commonly used when specifying dates like Christmas — 12/25 or 25/12, depending on where you live. Still to be decided are use cases like duration and some details around time zones.

Like the rest of HTML5, <time> remains a work in progress. Now that it’s once again a part of the HTML5 spec that work can resume and those who are already using <time> in some of its well-established roles can breathe easier.

See Also:

File Under: privacy

W3C’s New ‘Do Not Track’ Group Aims for Better Web Privacy

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has announced a new project to standardize the “Do Not Track” opt-out tools already a part of Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari. To help move the “Do Not Track” tools from browser novelty to web standard, the W3C has launched the Tracking Protection Working Group. The new group will bring together browser makers, advertisers and developers to standardize a simple way for web browsers to opt-out of online tracking.

Behavioral advertising, as such tracking is known, is becoming increasingly common on the web. Advertisers use cookies to follow you around the web, tracking which sites you visit, what you buy and even, in the case of mobile browsers, where you go. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has already outlined a Do Not Track mechanism (PDF link), which would work much like the FTC’s Do Not Call list, offering a way to opt-out of online tracking.

While the new DNT header is already part of Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari, and a wide range of sites now respect it, it has lacked one key ingredient — standardization. The new Tracking Protection Working Group is the first step on the road to standardization and will hopefully mean Opera and Chrome will both soon adopt the DNT header.

To help web developers get a handle on the new header Mozilla has put together a Developer Guide on DNT. The guide includes a walk through of how to detect a DNT header, and what to do about it when you do, as well as some sample code to help developers build DNT compliant sites and apps.

See Also:

Footprints photo by Vinoth Chandar/Flickr/CC

File Under: HTML5, Web Standards

W3C’s New ‘Community Groups’ Give Everyone a Voice in HTML5

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the web’s governing body, has launched a new "Community Groups" plan designed to help speed the development and standardization of HTML, CSS and other web tools.

Despite the W3C’s role as overseers of web standards, the W3C has never moved at the speed of the web. Much of the HTML5 and CSS 3 that powers the web today won’t officially be a standard for several more years. For those hoping to move the web forward the pace of the W3C sometimes makes the organization seem like a joke. Ten years to standardize HTML5? But HTML5 is already here.

Well, now is your chance to do something more than whine about the slow pace of standards on your blog. The W3C’s new community groups are designed so that anyone can contribute to the development of HTML. Just head over to the site and join a group that interests you. There are eight groups at the moment, including groups dedicated to topics like semantic news, web payments and web education.

The groups also go a long way toward making the W3C more accessible for mere mortals. With the new community groups you don’t need to be a Google or Apple employee to catch the attention of the W3C’s members, you just need to sign up and post your ideas for everyone to read.

The web is changing at an ever-accelerating pace and the W3C knows that if it doesn’t keep up, it’s going to be left behind. The W3C has already been abandoned once. When the W3C decided in 2004 that it would bow out the HTML standardization process, browser makers and web developers wasted no time creating their own separate standards body known as the Web Hypertext Applications Technology Working Group (WHATWG). The WHATWG is largely responsible for creating what we now call HTML5.

Clearly the web will move forward with or without the W3C, though as those who lived through the dark days of the blink tag can attest, the web is a better place with the W3C and web standards at its back.

See Also: